Tag Archives: Beatles

22 Days in the Life of The Beatles

The recently-released documentary “The Beatles – Get Back” is all the rage these days.

As a lifelong Beatles fan I couldn’t wait to see it. Now that I have, I’d like to offer some thoughts on it.

*SPOILER ALERT* The band breaks up…

First things first – I said in a Facebook post the other day that people who know how much of a Beatles fan I am might be surprised at what I have to say. If you saw that post and came here expecting me to say that my love of the Beatles has been misplaced and I’ve suddenly come to the realization that they aren’t all that – you may as well stop reading now because that just ain’t happening.

The Beatles are still the greatest band that ever was and ever will be. Did I need 7+ hours of behind-the-scenes footage to reinforce that belief?

No.

I appreciate Peter Jackson’s efforts, but I think he may have gone a bit overboard.

Editorial decisions aside – let’s talk about the content.

WARNING – if your musical taste was stunted by MTV – you probably won’t like this.

The one thing that this documentary proves beyond a doubt is that the Beatles were, are, and always will be the greatest rock band in the world. If your taste in music forbids you from acknowledging such…look at it from an analytical point of view.

In less than 10 years the Fabs released 17 albums in the US, 13 in the UK, 3 in Canada and a few in other countries.

They released 64 singles, practically all of them were in the top 10 and an obscene number of them were number 1.

On April 4, 1964 (only two months after their first American appearance) they held the top 5 spots on the Billboard chart – with seven other songs also in the top 100.

They were the first band to release a double A-side single.

Even though most of the singing was done by John and/or Paul – all four of them sang lead at one time or another.

Equipment (both for playing music and recording it) was invented to duplicate things they did without it.

Then let’s not forget starting the whole British invasion thing.

And on and on…

The fact that this documentary is getting so much attention more than 50 years after the band’s break up should also tell you something. Hell – the fact that it was made at all is pretty telling. Name for me any other band who is – or will be – still relevant fifty years after breaking up.

Take your time…I’ll wait.

It’s difficult (but not impossible) for people who weren’t alive at the time to really grasp the significance of this band. Never before, and not since, has a band had such an overwhelming impact on, not only music, but on…well…everything.

I’ve had many conversations with people who weren’t around at the time and who don’t get it. I find myself saying the same thing over and over…”You had to be there. You had to actually see it develop and grow and expand and mature, until the bubble burst and an entire generation was left with their jaws on the floor…unable to grasp the concept of life without them.”

It is commonly accepted in the scientific community that children begin to form memories as early as 4 years old. Since I was born in 1960, and they made their first American TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, that puts them right there at the front of my “early memory book.” This, along with four older brothers who baptized me with the music of the Woodstock generation, led to a terminal case of Beatlemania.

I was 10 when they broke up. They were so ingrained in my world, that the news of it didn’t seem possible. It was like learning that Santa Claus wasn’t real, only worse.

So, with all that said – here are a few of my thoughts/observations on Get Back.

Billy Preston’s presence in the studio possibly saved the band from disintegrating sooner. Not only did the music benefit from his contribution, it looks as though the boys needed somebody to show off for.

At times during the documentary, it appears as though John and Paul considered George and Ringo as mere backups. Then at other times it seems the exact opposite is true.

The footage proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that once these guys sat down and focused on the music, they were like a well-oiled machine. It’s so easy to see how they cranked out so much great music so effortlessly over the years. There was an undeniable chemistry when the four of them worked together and this documentary gives us a rare glimpse at it. For me, it was like pulling back the curtain and seeing that the wizard really is a wizard.

The Beatles functioned much better as a band than they did as four individuals. Their solo work didn’t hold a candle to their combined efforts and even though Paul is technically still making music – the percentage of really good music in his post-Beatle catalogue is pretty small. John was very preachy in his solo stuff. Rock and Roll and Imagine were the only two standouts (and one of them was a collection of classic covers). George’s solo work never struck a chord with me (no pun intended) because it always seemed as though he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to make money or spread his spiritualism – and let’s face it, those two things don’t generally walk hand-in-hand. Ringo’s solo career has been the one I’ve enjoyed the most, but mostly because of the rosters he has put together for recording and touring.

I have read many books and articles which describe Paul’s desperate attempts to keep the band from self-destruction…watching him in this footage confirms those stories. It also confirms his need for the spotlight. According to practically every account I’ve ever read, Paul loves being a performer – which is a required element if one wants to be a frontman. But this is where we see the difference between Paul and his bandmates. John seemed more interested in the music than the accolades, George had no use for spotlights and Ringo was just plain humble.

Paul craved the attention and adoration being a Beatle offered, which is why, in the last few years he resisted the inevitable breakup. He introduced all kinds of “new directions” for the band in attempts to rekindle their working bond. His logic being that if they had something to focus on as a group they could work around their personal differences.

The whole “Sgt. Pepper” concept was his idea (granted – that one was a bullseye), as was the ill-fated movie/travelling side show “Magical Mystery Tour” (which yielded some great music, but nothing else worthy of them). Filming the Let It Be sessions was another attempted life-line.

It’s really easy to watch the documentary, knowing the final outcome, and criticize Paul for fighting a losing battle – but there is one thing this footage reveals which helped me understand Paul’s motivation.

Paul believed (and says so several times in the documentary) that the group needed something to focus on, “a target”. He felt that the loss of manager Brian Epstein was like a ship losing its rudder. Regardless of his reasons for wanting the band to stay together – he seemed to be the only one who was willing to do whatever was needed to make it so. And when you see the pleasure they all took while working, even with the personal crap bubbling beneath the surface, you can understand why Paul wanted to keep it going.

I will be the first to admit – this entire documentary project could have been whittled down to one 2-3 hour episode. As it stands the only people who will fight through all 7+ hours are hard core Beatles fans. The casual fan will get bored and the non-fan (yes – they’re out there) won’t bother with it at all (as one would expect). Even I could have used much less of the pointless banter and a little less of the clowning around.

To those out there who still harbor the delusion that the Beatles were over-rated I can tell you this…whoever your favorite band is, not only do they not hold a candle to the Beatles, but they owe everything they are to them as well. This documentary is a small bit of proof…

Consider this: It has been fifty-plus years since The Beatles broke up and yet the demand for anything Beatles related was high enough for Disney (the same people who bought the Star Wars franchise for 4 billion dollars) to release this film.

Let’s face it…Disney doesn’t throw money at things if it’s not going to pay dividends.

Watching these guys create an entire album from nothing (plus come up with material to be used on a future album – that being Abbey Road) in just 22 days (20 if you deduct the two days lost to George’s absence) is incredible. It not only showcases their incredible knack for songwriting, it also gives a bird’s eye view of their talents and skills as musicians as all four of them play every instrument in the studio at some point.

I have mixed feelings about the famous rooftop concert…

It was cool watching them perform. It was cool seeing the crowds gather in the street and on the roofs of nearby buildings. I thought it was funny that the police came to break it up and the staff at Abbey Road studios delayed them long enough for the band to play five or six songs. I loved the comments of the people on the streets who, for the most part, loved the whole thing. Even the woman who was pissed because the concert interrupted her sleep was funny. What I didn’t like was that they only played a few songs and repeated them several times. It isn’t clear how the set list was determined, but they could have thrown in a couple of other songs from the fourteen they had rehearsed.

My favorite moment in the whole thing (and I know this is going to seem weird) was when they’re sitting around rehearsing and somebody says it’s time for lunch. So, John, Paul and Ringo all get up to go eat – but George, as calmly as if saying ‘I need a drink of water,’ says “I’ll be leaving now.” When asked what he means he casually says, “I’m leaving the band. See you ‘round the pubs.” And he walks out…

Another point worth mentioning – this series isn’t structured like those cookie-cutter music documentaries with the narrator telling us how the band rose to prominence before tragedy struck and how they came back from it and blah, blah, blah. In fact – there is no narrator and the only story is “you have four (sometimes five) guys in a room with a ticking clock and they need to write, rehearse and record an album worthy of the standards they have set.”

The bottom line:

I loved the documentary for giving us a peek behind the curtain, but unless you are a serious Beatles fan, you’ll most likely have trouble getting through the first episode, let alone the entire thing.

For the serious Beatles fans out there, I’d say you really need to watch it. At the very least it offers closure to those of us who were left hanging all those years ago.

As always – thank you for reading

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There’s Something About Yesterday…

For a writer the most important element in any story is, what I call, the What if moment.

Without a great what if, it doesn’t matter how well you write, how compelling your characters are or how snappy your dialogue is – your story’s potential is handicapped.

For example:

What if an astronaut became stranded on Mars?

What if a post-civil war cavalry officer learns that all of the stereotypes about native Americans he had assumed were true were, in fact, patently false?

What if a great white shark staked a claim off the coast of a small New England island and terrorized swimmers during the Fourth-of-July weekend?

Obviously, these stories all did fairly well as books and as major motion pictures – largely in part to their incredible what ifs.

In fact, a truly captivating what if can transform a standard boy-meets-girl-boy-gets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back love story into a story that will completely distract you from a plot you’ve seen a million times.

Such is the case with the movie Yesterday.

As a writer I will tell you, this movie has a huge what if…but as a music lover I say it’s got the mother of all what ifs!

What if The Beatles had never existed?

Think about it for a minute…

What if John had never met Paul?

What if those countless gigs at The Cavern had never happened?

What if Brian Epstein had never found them?

What if the greatest rock band EVER – never were.

The longer you think about it, the more difficult it is to fathom, but that’s the premise of this movie.

Jack Malik is a struggling musician who wakes, after a near death experience, to a world that has never known The Beatles.

No spoilers here – but it isn’t a bad dream.

The planet goes through some unexplained phenomenon at the precise moment Jack is struck by a bus – and as a result of said phenomenon…the Fabs never existed.

But Jack remembers them, and all of their songs.

When he plays Yesterday for his friends, they are rightly impressed with his song writing ability. His efforts to explain that the song was written by Paul McCartney are met with blank stares which get even more blank when he mentions The Beatles.

Immediately the viewer, at least this viewer, begins to contemplate the possibilities of a Beatle-less world.

It’s almost inconceivable, but in the movie, it is the new reality.

Needless to say, the world is duly impressed (again) with the catalog of material Jack comes up with, seemingly overnight, which leads to fame, potential fortune, etc., etc.

So how does Jack deal with his new found, albeit unearned, superstar status.

Well…he gets some very sage advice from a most unlikely source.

Naturally, the movie is not without its faults, but let’s face it…the concept of a “no Beatles” world could be turned into a NetFlix series and go on for twelve seasons…so it would be impossible to address every single after-effect.

For example – in one scene Jack plays a Beatles’ song for some friends…one of them remarks “Well, it’s not Coldplay…”

This is the first potentially major flaw with the story, because had The Beatles never existed the entire musical landscape we now know (including Coldplay) simply would not exist.

This may be my opinion, but I’m pretty sure there are people, much smarter than I, who would support the theory.

But the suspension of disbelief is powerful stuff – and the story manages to clear this seemingly impossible hurdle nicely.

Once again…no spoilers, but I will lay these truths on you:

You do not – repeat DO NOT – have to be a Beatles’ fan to enjoy this movie, but if you’re one of those misguided souls who believe the Fabs were over-rated (and the moon landing was staged) you probably won’t enjoy it very much.

The story is not as predictable as you might think.

There are a few moments when you’ll have to fight back the tears.

Finally – when you leave the cinema you will have yet another reminder of how four kids from Liverpool literally changed the world.

There you have it…my review of Yesterday.

It might not be the movie that changes your life…

…but what if it is?

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

 

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Shut the Front Door…There’s a Draft in Here!

Merriam-Webster.com lists thirteen definitions for the word draft.

Before I looked, I would have been hard pressed to come up with five or six. I mean who knew that “the force required to pull a plow or other implement” is called the draft?

Not me.

Plow pulling aside…In today’s post we will be focusing on definition 5-C – “a preliminary sketch, outline or version”.

Yes…the first draft, which, according to Ernest Hemingway, is always shit. (He really said it, look it up!).

Many first-time authors have trouble accepting this particular truth, but the smart ones come to terms with it quickly. It’s a matter of survival, really. Either you accept that your first draft is nothing more than a glorified outline or you’ll sit around wondering why nobody is reading it.

The trick for authors, at every level, is getting the draft from trash to smash.

Some of you have heard my process before – if you haven’t you can read about it here.

If you don’t know my process – and you didn’t click the link to read about it –  it involves a group of trusted beta readers who tell me, in their opinion, whether my latest work is any good or not – and why.

Naturally, without the first draft there is no novel, so the initial writing of the story is fairly important, but I am of the opinion that the beta-reading phase is the make-it or break-it part of the operation.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, this post is my annual announcement of the completion of another first draft.

My latest work is entitled 24 Minutes, and it is a vast departure from anything I have written before.

Without giving too much away, there is no Ike, no beach-side caper, no picturesque scenes along the ocean and no (or at least very little) humor.

I didn’t plan it that way, it just sort of happened.

For the sake of clarity…I didn’t drift over to writing sci-fi, fantasy, or chic-lit (not that there’s anything wrong with any of them). 24 Minutes is still a crime-fiction story, but it has nothing in common with my previous nine novels (except for the “crime” part). The story revolves around a group of people trying to survive a situation most of us couldn’t even comprehend – and that’s as much of a spoiler I’m going to give you.

To be honest – writing something so different was, for me, a bit intimidating.

We can all identify with the secure feeling from always doing the thing we’re most comfortable with, but as a good friend once told me – life begins outside your comfort zone.

Several times during the course of creating this story I told myself “if you stop now, you can still write an Ike story and have it released before Christmas.”  For better or worse, I didn’t give in to that temptation. I kept going because, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I felt that this story was overdue. It has needed to be written for several years, by anybody. I just happened to be the one to do it.

Now it’s in the hands of my beta readers, and the nervousness is coming back.

I feel a little like Marty McFly… “What if they say I’m no good?”…but I’m a bit thick headed, so I’ll move forward, release it anyway and let the chips fall where they may.

I mean, even The Beatles had a couple of songs they probably wished they hadn’t released.

Naturally, I hope it is well-received, but what’s the worst that can happen? People don’t like it and I go back to writing Ike stories. I don’t have a problem with that.

In the meantime, the dice have been rolled on 24 Minutes…let’s hope it isn’t crap!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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The Johnny Bravo Protocol and How #TheBeatles Ruined Music

It’s practically common knowledge that when Brian Epstein took over as the manger for the Beatles they were, at least by all appearances, four hoodlums from Liverpool with enough potential for five bands.

hoodlums Desperate for competent management and enticed by even the most remote chance at stardom, the Fabs agreed to Epstein’s conditions…one of which was an overall image makeover.

Hence the matching suits, haircuts, etc.

hoodlums 2

Epstein knew, way back then, that despite the overwhelming talent pool in the band, he would have a much easier time selling them if they didn’t look like teddy-boys (one of the first classifications of young men whose looks and behavior had a tendency to frighten the older generation).

He was right of course, and the rest, as they say, is history.

made over 2

made over

By the time Epstein died the boys were the biggest performing group on the planet, they had already ditched the “mop-top” look and were moving into their own individual looks – and it didn’t matter because by that time they could have recorded themselves singing in the shower and sold a million copies.

hippies

You’re probably wondering if I have a point to this little history lesson…I do, even if it makes me sound like an old man.

It’s probably appropriate that I sound like an old man, because the entire impetus for this post came as a result of me being couch-bound with a bad back…or as the old joke goes…a weak back.

So I turned my TV on this morning and before I could switch over to my DVR, and the most recent episode of Hell on Wheels, I was greeted with a morning talk show host introducing a new band which, according to his teleprompter, was the new up-and-coming thing.

I figured…I love music so what the hell, let’s see what this band is about.

The name of the band was R5, and let me save you the trouble…unless you’re a twelve-old-girl or a housewife striving to look cool for the friends of your twelve-year-old daughter…just don’t bother.

I hate using the saying five minutes of my life I’ll never get back, but in this case I am going to make an exception.

Visually, this “band” looked like the unwanted love child of Prince and The Goo Goo Dolls. As for their sound…it can only be described as if somebody found an unreleased out take by the Bay City Rollers and tried to recreate it in the style of Hanson.

The drummer looked like he wasn’t sure which song they were playing. I would bet that the bass player’s bedroom is wall-to-wall mirrors. As he sang, I could see the lead singer mentally calculating his chances of getting laid at any time in the near future. The lead guitar player looked oddly out of place, in that he actually seemed like a talented musician – hopefully he’ll come to his senses and leave this abomination before any chances of ever being taken seriously as a musician go down the toilet. And then there was the keyboard player…an attractive girl obviously included to keep the band from being pigeonholed as a boy-band.

damn kids

It was, I suppose, the natural progression of The Brian Epstein Theory – looks will sell before talent.

It is also a depressing commentary on the music industry.

I use the word industry rather than business because this band is a perfect example of the definition of the word – economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods.

When I see bands like this all I can think of is some Donald Trump wannabe trolling the internet for kids who can, even marginally, sing, dance or play an instrument so he can package them, promote them, make a million dollars off of them and then move on to the next big thing.

Back in my day (I told you I was an old man!) bands had to compete with each other musically…these kids today – all they need to do is have the right look, throw a video up on YouTube and wait for it to be seen the right person. Don’t believe me…please see prosecution Exhibit A – Justin Bieber.

Actual musical talent not required.

As long as there are pre-pubescent girls with cash, the Johnny Bravo Protocol will lead to huge profits every time.

The sad truth is that, despite whatever minimal musical talent these kids have, their musical future can probably be charted in months rather than years.

I realize, of course, that comparing these poor kids to the Beatles is grossly unfair. Comparing any band, at any level to the Beatles is unfair for that matter, but it seems to me that, since the inception of the music video (something else pioneered by The Beatles ) the music business has deteriorated to a point where it is no longer about the music – it’s about the look.

Thanks for nothing MTV.

mtv sucks

It’s a cruel irony that the greatest band ever to make music started a chain reaction that would lead to, what seems to be, the inevitable demise of good music.

End rant.

As always – thank you for reading

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What Skeletons are in Your Musical Closet?

I was raised on rock and roll.

Being born in 1960, and having four older brothers who were already teenagers, well on their way to becoming full-blown hippies, my musical education began while my peers were still enjoying the tune played by their jack-in-the-box.

I was the only kid in my third-grade class to know who Jimi Hendrix was.  hendrix woodstock

I had trouble understanding why the rest of my friends didn’t know about Woodstock, and I could sing Born on the Bayou like nobody’s business (today, not so much).

It’s safe to say that my taste in music is predominantly rock and roll…or classic rock if you want to be more specific, but as I grew older my tastes expanded. In my early twenties I discovered the blues (which would also include soul and R&B). As I approached thirty I took a liking to jazz and classical and during my forties I got into country. rock and roll

I can honestly say that I at least try to appreciate all forms of music to some degree.

I’m not a really big fan of rap, mostly because I think it is often inspired by anger, hatred and violence – three things for which I have no use in my life. Even still, there are some examples of rap that I do appreciate and enjoy.

Disco…since dancing and the whole nightclub scene was never really high on my list of favorite things, I never had much use for it, but again, I have developed a taste for a small sampling of disco songs.

I also enjoy some good funk.

airplane disco

So, with all that being said, there is another category of music I think we all share…something that goes beyond “like and dislike.”

Each of us has music we like, and we’re usually not ashamed to talk about it. Likewise music we dislike, and these we are usually less ashamed to advertise.

There is a third category…the one we keep to ourselves…the one we refuse to acknowledge…the one we hope nobody finds out about.

I call it “skeleton music” – as in the skeleton(s) in your musical closet.

teach them to dance

A friend of mine is a huge metal fan, which is not only to say he is a fan in a huge way, but also that he is a huge guy. To look at him you’d think he would just as soon kick your puppy as look at you (he wouldn’t, but he looks like he would). Somehow, during a recent conversation, he revealed to me that he loves Bon Jovi. He even told me a story about him standing in line at Dunkin Donuts singing a Bon Jovi song out loud while he scanned the menu…drawing some pretty interesting looks from the other patrons.

Yet he doesn’t talk openly about his “secret affair” with Jon and the boys…

Why?

I don’t know, but to paraphrase the famous Life cereal commercial – “I’m not gonna ask him – you ask him.”

On a nine hour road trip with some friends back in the early 90s (all guys) we were in a remote part of Pennsylvania where there weren’t many radio stations available, so we were forced to listen to an Easy Listening station.

Imagine our surprise when one of the guys started quietly singing along with Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs.

After several miles of relentless torment from the rest of us, he finally copped to it (but, not before trying to blame his mother for listening to it so often that the lyrics were embedded in his brain).

“Hey,” he said in his own defense. “I don’t like him, I just think this is a good song.”

A co-worker of mine was born and raised in Nassau. Naturally, being from the islands his musical tastes lean heavily toward reggae with a healthy scattering of R&B and rap. He also has a fondness for 80s synth-pop.

One day a few of us were having a discussion about old time TV shows when somebody mentioned Hee-Haw. My island-native friend’s brain wasn’t fast enough to censor his own response…he blurted his love for the music on the show and even confessed to begging his parents to buy him a banjo when he was eight-years-old. (They didn’t, but if they had he would have been a pioneer of the rasta-billy scene.)

hee haw

When he saw the looks on our faces (mostly stunned confusion) he laughed and tried to pull the old “just kidding” defense – unsuccessfully.

They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes…

Despite my love of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Willie Dixon, Miles Davis, Dwight Yoakam and Mozart…when I’m alone in the car I will crank the hell out of an ABBA song (until I get to a stop light).

abba

There, I said it.

I’m out.

Laugh if you will – but they have some great songs! (I even attended a live performance of Mama-Mia in Rhode Island and was blown away!)

So what are the skeletons in your musical closet?

Come on – you can share it with us, we’re all friends here…

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Fifty Shades of Grey is Art – Whether You Like It or Not

Before we get to today’s topic please take a couple of minutes to watch this video of an Australian movie critic’s review of the movie adaptation of the best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

critic

Well – this is embarrassing…the review has been taken down because of copyright issues. I’m sorry about that.

In short – she trashed it. According to her there was not a single redeeming quality to be found in the movie. She called it “domestic violence dressed up as erotica” and several other negative things. She even went as far as to say that her husband did not get lucky after the movie because (I’m paraphrasing) it left her anything but in the mood.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t care?

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have never read any of the Fifty Shades novels, nor have I seen the movie…and barring a frontal lobotomy, I never will.

50 shadesThat being said…let’s talk about taste.

A wise man once said “Opinions are like assholes…everybody has one, and everybody thinks everybody else’s stinks.”

I posted the above video (when it could actually be seen) on my facebook page recently and, within minutes, I had a nice little string of comments – some agreeing with the critic and some accusing her of having her head where her opinion is.

I’m not picking on Fifty Shades (even though it was originally written as fan fiction for the Twilight saga), I chose it specifically because it has an immediate polarizing effect whenever it comes up in conversation, so I figured it would be a good example for my point…

Book(s) or movie…it doesn’t matter…mention Fifty Shades of Grey and you’ll have a debate raging in no time. Not just your garden variety debate either…you’ll have a full-blown free-for-all with one side saying it’s awesome, another side saying it’s trash, the third side will tear it up for the way it objectifies women and there will even be a side complaining that the author didn’t properly research the whole BDSM scene before writing about it.

debate

Men, women, young, old – Fifty Shades gets ‘em hot…and not in a good way.

But is it good?

Is it trash?

Is it a poor excuse for erotica?

Is it a brilliantly played card by the author to cash in on horny housewives?

Relax…those are all trick questions.

The answer is to each one of them is Yes…and No

When it comes to our taste in art there are no right, or wrong, answers. Good taste and bad taste are totally arbitrary concepts. Art appeals to each of us in a different way, for different reasons. The world would be extremely boring if everybody liked the exact same kind of music, movies, paintings and books.

I think we need to amend the list of taboo discussion topics…Religion, Politics, Sex and Art.

Call it what you will…but Fifty Shades is art.

That’s right, I said it. It’s art. art

You couldn’t pay me to read it and I’d rather pour bleach in my eyes than watch the movie…

…but, love it or hate it, it’s art, and the thing that makes it art is the fact that we can’t come to an all-encompassing opinion about its quality (or lack thereof).

It’s the difference between art and science.

If I say “Jaws is the best movie ever made” there will be people who agree with me and people who disagree with me, and with varying degrees of intensity.

Now if I say “The sum of the squares of the two legs of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse.” Nobody can disagree with me – because it’s science.

pythagorean theorum

A fact is a fact is a fact…but an opinion is, well, we’ve already covered that.

Whether you’re talking about books, music, movies, paintings or interpretive dance – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The interesting thing, to me anyway, is how defensive some people get.

I’ve seen people defend their favorite artist with more ferocity than they would their own children. I remember once, in high school, when I wanted to pound a classmate six ways from Sunday for having the audacity to say that Kiss was a better band than The Beatles.

beatles

I kid you not…to this day I’m still amazed at the self-restraint I was able to muster in the face of such blasphemy.

But, I digress…

I imagine the first art critic made his debut in a cave in France, and there was probably more than one Neanderthal there with their leopard skin wrap in a twist over his review. Who knows…it may have been the reason for the first war, or at least the first rumble.

critics

Since then there has been no shortage of people standing by to tell us why something is good or bad—and an equally ample supply of folks willing to let everyone know how wrong the dingbats in the first group are.

It’s funny how people will call a reviewer all sorts of names when said reviewer takes an opposing stance on a particular work of art, but those same people, when trying to decide which movie to see, will say “oh, let’s watch that one….they say it’s really good.”

Who says it’s really good?

Probably the same guy you called a moron last week because he panned Fifty Shades.

The impetus for this entire post, believe it or not, was a conversation with a fellow author about book reviews. We authors ask (more like beg) readers to post reviews knowing that it’s only a matter of time until somebody trashes our book.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but you have to take the good with the bad. The trick to dealing with it is to remember that it’s all a matter of taste.

So, the bottom line is, whether you’re an artist or an art aficionado, screw the critics, because art appreciation it is not a matter of black and white…

…it’s all about shades of grey.

face palm

(come on – tell me you didn’t see that coming!!)

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Big News! I’m Going to be Interviewing That Guy! (you know…that guy)

Imagine you’re on Jeopardy… Final Jeopardy

The final Jeopardy category is “Entertainers” and you’re feeling pretty confident so you wager the whole enchilada.

And the answer is: The man who played drums for Johnny Rivers, Trini Lopez, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, Bob Dylan and The Band?

You should know this, but… I don't know

He has also been in 30 movies including Total Recall, Tin Cup, Vacation and Sling Blade.

You really should know this…

He has appeared in almost 40 television series such as M*A*S*H, Baywatch and Northern Exposure.

He’s had recurring roles in Home Improvement and Justified.

This should be easy…

Not only has he been in dozens of TV commercials…one of his commercials holds the record as the longest running commercial in television history.

The music starts playing and you start sweating as you draw a complete blank.

You’d think with a resume like that he’d be a household name.

Aaaannnnd – time’s up.

The name we were looking for is Mickey Jones.

Mickey

I see by that look on your face that you think a mistake has been made. Surely with a list of accomplishments so impressive the name would be instantly recognizable.

Mickey Jones?

Wasn’t he one of the Monkees?

Sorry – but there has been no mistake…

Mickey Jones is the quintessential “best kept secret in the entertainment industry.”

Mickey began his musical career in the late 50’s and it ran through 1976, at which time he changed his focus to acting and is still at it.

So now you’re wondering why I’m quizzing you on this guy.

Long story short…I will have the honor of interviewing Mickey on my radio show on Friday, August 1.

Mickey with Ann Margaret

And how did I land an interview with a living legend?

I met Mickey a couple of years ago when he was the celebrity guest on a charity motorcycle run/golf tournament. During the golf tournament I got to drive him around in the cart. For four hours I heard stories about Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Ann Margaret, David Bowie, Tim Allen, and Chevy Chase – and he hadn’t even scratched the surface of his experiences.  Mickey Tool Time

For me – a guy from a small town in Rhode Island – it was an amazing weekend, and best of all, Mickey is a genuinely nice guy.

Not once in two days did this guy act above anybody.

To an outside observer he would have looked like just another biker hanging out with his buddies.

So there you have it…tune in to Tim Baker’s B-Sides, Deep Cuts and Cool Covers on Friday August, 1 at 7:00 p.m. EST and check it out.

The interview will be broadcast live on 97.3 FM – The Surf as well as over the internet on www.flaglerbeachradio.com.

In the meantime – if you have any questions for Mickey, leave them in the comments section below and I’ll try to work them into the spot.

The First Edition

By the way…all of the stories I heard in the golf cart, along with dozens more, can be found in Mickey’s book, appropriately titled That Would Be Me.

I’ve read it – and it’s great.

The title of the book, he told me, comes from his standard reply to people who approach him daily and say “Hey, aren’t you that guy…”

Mickey doesn’t mind that people don’t know him by name – he never did anything for the fame or the glory. He did it because he loved doing it. He always felt like the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity to do the things he did!

That Would Be Me

I hope you can tune in, Mickey is always happy to make new friends!

As always – thank you for reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Mickey golf cart

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